Like life, things can change in an instant. After working a set-up role with Oakland in each of the two previous seasons, Joakim Soria heads to Arizona on a one-year deal entering camp projected as the closer. On the surface, this may feel like a reach but Soria's done well in high leverage for the A's and being close to his family helped the Diamondbacks get a bargain in the marketplace to add veteran depth to a young bullpen. 


In 2020, Soria went 2-2 with two saves, four holds and one blown save over 22.1 innings. He owned a 2.82 ERA, 4.36 SIERA and 1.25 WHIP with 24 strikeouts against ten walks. His swinging strike percentage finished at a career low since 2014 (9.6 percent). When viewing his arsenal, Soria threw less curves last year which contributed to this decline. Whether or not he regains his feel on this pitch may determine his upside in 2021. 


According to Statcast, Soria allowed 62 batted ball events giving up two barrels (3.2 percent), an 88 MPH average exit velocity and 33.9 hard hit percentage. Unlike the Fangraphs indicator above (SIERA) for ERA, Soria's expected statistics on Statcast provide hope for this year. Soria registered a 2.76 expected ERA (xERA), a .202 expected batting average (xBA) and .248 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). 


Unexpected saves from unexpected sources come with some inherent risk. However, Soria ranks in the 92nd percentile among his peers in xERA and xwOBA plus his barrel percentage allowed placed him in the 94th percentile. Since 2019, Soria's allowed 11 home runs but in Arizona using the expected home run rating on Statcast, only five would be homers in his new home. 


Plus, Soria's swing and take chart illustrates his ability to avoid hard contact. When viewing this chart, negative numbers for a pitcher represent positive results where hitters would be the opposite. 



If Soria's curve rebounds in 2021, it could defer major migration to the mean for him. In 2020, Soria relied on his slider against right-handed hitters and his change-up versus left-handed batters. Here are his splits from last season: 


  • Soria vs. RHH with Slider: 30.6 whiff percentage, 27.3 K%, 18.8 put away percent

  • Soria vs. LHH with Change-up: 33.3 whiff percentage, 33.3 K%, 29.4 put away percent


Statcast also tracked two cutters. Not sure if this could be a new wrinkle, but Soria's repertoire appears different on Brooks Baseball. Since Brooks uses a different tracking system, Soria's change-up identifies as a split-finger. But, once again, check out his breakdowns with each offering: 


  • Soria vs. RHH with Slider: 11.8 SwStr%

  • Soria vs. LHH with Split (Change): 25 SwStr%

  • Overall Soria's Slider: 11.7 SwStr%, 10 GB%

  • Overall Soria's Split: 21.4 SwStr%, 60 GB%

  • Overall Soria's Curve: 13.2 SwStr%, 25 GB%


Expanding his results for a larger sample from the second half of 2019 through and including last year, helps our assessment of his performance: 


  • Soria 2H 2019-through-2020: 3-2, 3 Saves, 16 Holds, 49.2 IP, 57:18 K:BB, 3.26 ERA, 3.80 SIERA, 1.09 WHIP, 27.8 K%, 8.8 BB%, 12.2 SwStr%


Suddenly, his numbers appear much more solid but this includes a more effective curve for Soria. Going even wider in his results, Soria's last three years get included in many of his projection sets so it needs to be explored as well: 


  • Soria Last Three Years: 7-10, 19 Saves, 40 Holds, 153 IP, 176:48 K:BB, 3.59 ERA, 3.43 SIERA, 1.10 WHIP, 27.8 K%, 7.6 BB%, 13.2 SwStr%


Given his solid ratios and experience in high leverage events, Soria should handle closer duties well in Arizona. There's no upside or excitement, just solid along with faring well versus right-handed batters in this time frame: 



When one views his recent average draft position chart from the NFBC, fantasy owners regard Soria as the closer as well:



Taking all of the information into account, here are his projections from different systems: 



Nothing flashy. Plan on a WHIP between his second half of 2019 through last year (1.10) to 1.18 while heeding his xERA (2.76) from 2020 along with his SIERA ranges (3.43-to-3.80). One does not win the draft in the chat room taking Soria, but if he records 20 or more saves as your third closer, Soria's owners may laugh last on their way to the bank. 


Statistical Credits:

THE BAT courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborsk